By Cliff Kirkpatrick, Montgomery Advertiser:
Reggie Ragland was asked this week what made the difference this year as to why he has been so productive. He’s been a leader on the fourth-ranked Alabama football team’s defense that ranks third in the nation. The starting junior inside linebacker from Madison paused to think, and then responded simply that he playing now. “Getting on the field, really,” Ragland said. “Finally getting onto the field because I had all-Americas in front of me.” Ragland spent his first two years as a backup and special teams player. He earned starting job this fall, and gets better each week.
By Wes Rucker, GoVols247:
Lane Kiffin’s mother told CBSSports.com’s Jon Solomon that she was “scared to death” for her son’s safety this weekend and wanted him to coach from the Neyland Stadium press box. Robin Kiffin, former Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamiton and others were interviewed throughout Solomon’s piece on Lane Kiffin — the former Vols head coach and current Alabama offensive coordinator.
By Michael Casagrande, al.com:
It’s getting to that point in the season when reality sets in for freshmen. Those who haven’t played could be getting frustrated. Others wish they were playing more. And for a group that was ranked No. 1 in the nation as recruits, they’re fighting through that mental wall. Alabama coach Nick Saban said he had a chat with some of those players this week.
By Howie Kussoy, Newyork Post:
By this time next week, we will have seen the first set of rankings compiled by the playoff committee, but it’s already obvious that we are barely better off than we were the past 16 years and still at least another dozen years from a logical and equitable solution in determining college football’s postseason participants. Outside of Florida State, which doesn’t play another ranked team the rest of the season, there is little point in projecting playoff teams at this point because four of the top five teams in the nation — Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Alabama and Auburn — all reside in one division and play two games against two teams in that group.
By MARQ BURNETT, ledger-enquirer.com:
Just because Alabama quarterback Blake Sims doesn’t always respond to the criticism, doesn’t mean it doesn’t get back to him. Throughout the offseason, preseason practice and as recently as the Crimson Tide’s two road games at Ole Miss and Arkansas, there were questions about whether Sims could be the Tide’s starting quarterback and lead this team. Through seven games, Sims has helped lead the Tide to a 6-1 record including 2-1 in the SEC heading into a trip to Tennessee on Saturday. “It makes me want to work even harder,” Sims said.
By Cliff Kirkpatrick, timesdaily.com:
Concern about position battles, rankings and execution take a back seat this week when the fourth-ranked Alabama football team travels to Tennessee for the heated SEC cross-divisional rivalry game. Just because the Volunteers are struggling again under second-year coach Butch Jones doesn’t matter. “This game that we have every year with Tennessee is one of the great rivalry games in college football,” coach Nick Saban said. “It certainly has a lot of tradition, and is something that has been very special and means a lot to a lot of our fans. It certainly means a lot to me and our staff and our team.”
By Andrew Gribble, al.com:
Likely cautioned not to provide too many quotable nuggets about Lane Kiffin’s impending return to Tennessee, Alabama’s players have talked more this week about the rivalry in general and less about how this particular installment will affect their offensive coordinator. Junior linebacker Reggie Ragland, though, made a face that said it all. “Whoooo,” Ragland said. “It’s going to be loud up there.” Loud, sure, but that probably won’t be the half of it, and the person that knows that most is Kiffin’s boss. Nick Saban’s gone back twice to places he left on his own terms to the dismay of fans who were shocked and displeased with his departure.
By Matt Brown, Sports On Earth:
I don’t know how else to say this, everyone, but you’ll have to excuse this scorching hot take: Lane Kiffin is doing a decent job as Alabama’s offensive coordinator. That’s it. There have been highs (Florida, Texas A&M), there have been lows (Ole Miss, Arkansas) and mostly there have been screencaps. He is doing a passable, decent job over seven games that should not yet inspire strong opinions one way or the other, regardless of how quickly we want to judge him. Nick Saban has him right where he wants him. Until Saturday, that is, when there is no escaping the spotlight.
By DAVID PASCHALL, timesfreepress.com:
Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland’s interception in the final minute of the third quarter last Saturday helped preserve the Crimson Tide’s shutout in their 59-0 trouncing of Texas A&M, but Ragland had been wreaking havoc on the Aggies long before that. And the rest of the Southeastern Conference as well. Ragland, a 6-foot-2, 254-pound junior from Madison, Ala., is the latest emerging standout linebacker in the Nick Saban era. He has compiled 34 tackles during the past four games, including 1.5 tackles for loss against Texas A&M to follow up his career-high 12-tackle performance in the 14-13 defeat of Arkansas.